We take our time traveling, and often stop at rest areas along the highway to take a moment to relax and maybe grab a bit out of the refrigerator. So we’re pretty familiar with rest areas.
Most are simply functional. A few are specially designated as state welcome centers and provide tourist information. Some even have an information desk.
When we crossed from Pennsylvania into New York on I-86, we pulled into the Chautauqua Lake Rest Area and were blown away. The rest area is on a high bluff called Bemus Point that overlooks the lake below. The view is breathtaking.
The building is a beautiful and spacious Victorian style facility. This is the western-most rest area and information center in New York and was our first look at the state. It gave us a very favorable impression on New York.
The Chautauqua Lake Rest Area is staffed daily and year-round, using a combination of staff and volunteers. There’s a rather extensive display inside that provides historical and cultural information about the area.
On the hillside surrounding the building, there are benches and picnic tables overlooking the lake. One the day we were there, several other couples were enjoying the view too. We were all astonished to have found such a gorgeous spot to spend a few minutes off the highway. No one was eager to get back on.